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Nations sign Eurodrone contract

A scale model of the Eurodrone in Luftwaffe markings was shown at the Berlin Security Conference in November 2021. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The partner nations have formally launched the Eurodrone project, with the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR) signing the development contract on their behalf with industry, which was represented by Airbus as the programme lead.

The milestone on 24 February sees France, Germany, Italy, and Spain move ahead with development of the European unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which is also known as the European Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) and/or the EuroMALE.

Under the programme, 20 systems will be developed and manufactured, each containing three aircraft and two ground-control stations. Germany will be the largest customer with seven systems, followed by Italy with five, and France and Spain with four each (with options for two more for Spain).

Some cursory details had been released about the industrial make-up of the programme. Airbus and Germany will build the flight management and airspace integration system, landing gear, and ground control station, as well as host the final assembly line in Manching; Dassault and France will build the safe flight and landing system, mission communications, air and central maintenance system, and ground and mobile central maintenance system; Leonardo and Italy will undertake wing design and production, airborne electrical and environmental control system, airborne mission system, and airborne armament system; while Airbus and Spain will design and build the fuselage and empennage, the ground safety critical control system, safety-related tactical communications system, and the propulsion system.

The first flight is expected in 2025, with deliveries set to begin from 2028.

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